I wrote last month of the frustrations building over a number of simmering issues at the plant importer/grower/MPI interface.
I mentioned the situation with Import Health Standards and the fact that MPI have not resourced the continual updating of these important standards and they certainly have not developed new ones.
This is all undeniably true, but wait there is more, and yes, you guessed correctly, it is worse, much worse.
Since about May 2018 MPI appear to have not issued a permit to import live plants, to anyone.
Why, you might ask? The answer MPI will give you is that due to the current litigation against them, their in-house legal advisors have advised MPI not to issue any permits to import.
What does this mean? It means that if you are a retailer and are used to having a steady supply of indoor plants to sell such as Sansevieria (Mother In Laws Tongue) or a braided Pachira aquatica (Braided Mexican Money Tree) or a decorative Dracaena, you will be finding out pretty soon that you will have some additional shelf space to fill up with something else.
The above few mentioned plants are part of a group of plant products that have until recently, been regularly imported into NZ as semi-finished plants.
They enter the country, spend the next 3 months or so in quarantine where they grow and get over the recent transport shock, and are then progressed to be retail ready.
But as there are no permits being issued, the steady stream of plants has stopped.
The example I have used is specific to those growers producing indoor plants, but there is a myriad of growers who require permits to import plant material into the country and we are all frustrated by MPI's unilateral action of taking plant imports off the menu for several weeks - processing of import permit applications started again late last week, but the backlog will take some time to get through!
MPI and Industry met Thursday 27th. Called by industry members and chaired by NZPPI, it had as agenda items, the following:
Delays in Inspection and border clearance, Pelleted seed testing, GMO testing, Import Health Standards, and the future of plant imports.
All fairly substantial topics and ones that can change our industry overnight. Sadly once again NZPPI, an industry representative organization funded by its members, is seeking answers and setting up forums to seek benefits and understanding on an industry wide basis.
I used the word sadly, because the insight and membership funded actions of a minority are paying for a benefit to a wider forum.
While I have the occasional divergence of opinion over NZPPI priorities, I am pleased they exist and are here to interface between the ever increasing incursions made by government departments into our business lives.
Going into any meeting with bureaucrats, from the position of someone with skin in the game, it is always important to remember that the salaries of bureaucrats appear in their bank accounts every fortnight. They cannot, however they might try or pretend to, understand the industry's concerns, it is simply an abstraction to them.
What they do, their actions, has no tangible impact on any of them personally.